I have been meaning to make some stylistic changes to this site for some time, unfortunately my busy schedule (the rest of the internet isn’t going to read itself) has prevented me from sitting down and really understanding how to improve the user experience here at WaPo. Luckily, I stumbled upon knowledge from a group of internet marketing gurus (fun fact: I took zero marketing classes at business school) that really know how to make a website crackle.
One of the things that the gurus highly recommend is increasing your site’s profile on social networking sites. Apparently a key element to creating a real sense of community amongst your readers is to seamlessly integrate the various social platforms within the readers’ interactions with your site itself. However, as with many things in life, there must be a balance to your efforts – generally, it seems, subtlety will be rewarded. Readers don’t necessarily want to be bombarded with reminders of their other virtual “obligations” such as foursquaring that they are at PetSmart shopping for hamster sweaters or updating their secret AshleyMadison profile. But in this contemporary age, a gentle reminder, or “call to action” can go a long way in increasing a sites value in today’s currency of “Likes,” “Recommends” and “Not Bads.”
Implementing these concepts in a visually compelling way does not come easily to me, given my limited knowledge of HTML and really anything other than googling endlessly for answers to questions like “Why the f*ck is the spacing so f*cked up on wordpress? why doesn’t it just put a space where i put a space?? Why???”
Couple my coding ineptitiude with being a bit of a newcomer to the concept of social media – having long preferred nonsocial media such as watching bumfights and arguing with internet strangers over whether Drive made any fucking sense whatsoever – has made revamping the site a daunting task. However, I think I’m finally starting to understand a little bit how this whole thing works. For example, Twitter is much more powerful platform for receiving unwanted advertisements for unneeded services than email has ever been. It is also phenomenal for receiving unsolicited Follows from fictional females – you can even see their fictional faces, a personal touch that email subject lines only wish they could offer.
So I’m hoping that some of my small changes will impart a kind of subliminal “call to action” – where you, the reader, are so ensconsced in the thought-provoking content relating to food, feet or ugly babies, that you barely notice the hint of request in the air. Just because this site does not have a product to sell, really – other than inane thoughts from an uninformed person – doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be some marketing going on up in here. A careful evaluation of my traffic quality indicates there is opportunity, verified by feedback from the internet marketing gurus.
Looking at my stats last month, my traffic broke down like this:
- Human visitors: 6
- Romanian spambots: 5,207
- Comment spambots: 1,312 (thanks, Akismet!)
- People who misspelled bakedpotato.com
With traffic like that, it’s clearly time to focus on monetization. Sure, one way would be to sell out to a major corporation or media conglomerate, but I really want to protect the integrity of the site, and my ability to not do anything for weeks at a time if I so desire. Similarly, a public stock offering would subject me to the whims of shareholders, and I cannot be sure that each of my six human readers would agree to serve on my Board of Directors. I will have to figure out an approach that is neither cumbersome nor detracts from the aesthetics of the site, but encourages readers to do things that cause me to get money, traffic, or perhaps even additional Follow requests from imaginary females on the Twitter. Maybe another iPad giveaway? I’ll keep thinking about it, there must be some mutually beneficial way to get things done around here and keep this place looking sweet as always.
Hard-hitting new post hopefully by Friday. Friday of which week TBD.